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Sharing memories before final spin at Record Revolution in Cleveland Heights

Record Revolution 03990.jpg Rob Love, co-owner of Record Revolution, (left) reminisces with former employee Mike Roho inside the Cleveland Heights store on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022.
Ryan Loew
Ideastream Public Media
Rob Love, co-owner of Record Revolution, (left) reminisces with former employee Mike Roho inside the Cleveland Heights store on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022.

One of the country’s oldest independent record stores shuts down at the end of the year: Record Revolution has been a fixture in Cleveland’s music scene for more than five decades, withstanding changes from vinyl to cassettes and CDs to streaming and back to vinyl. Now, there’s just a few days left for its customers to visit the store on Coventry Road.

It opened in 1967. The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” was turning listeners on, and turning the music business on its ear. For almost a century, records had been sold mostly through appliance stores, drugstores and musical instrument shops. But as Baby Boomers came of age, independent stores like Cleveland Heights’ Record Revolution offered a new experience, with clerks who lived and breathed the latest music. For 15 years, one of them was Rob Love. And he became a co-owner in 2004.

“We were career music enthusiasts, you know what I mean?” Love said. “Like I can't think of anybody that wasn't also a musician or also involved in music in some other aspect of their life.”

Today, dusty stacks of 45s line a few shelves in the basement during Record Revolution’s going-out-of-business sale. There’s also a bargain bin with albums by Dan Fogelberg and Barbra Streisand, and one wall of new and rare LPs awaiting a new home. For years, it’s been the go-to music stop for Stacey Cohen, who found the store in the 1980s.

“I remember buying Madonna and Cyndi Lauper buttons and tapes and stuff like that,” she said. “I remember when the 'True Blue' Madonna album came out - coming here to buy that - and we were really excited about that and putting the buttons on our jean jackets."

Despite vinyl’s comeback over the past decade, sales at Record Revolution have still been slow. One big factor is the music industry’s shift to streaming music. Joey Dean and Ellie Montenegro, both in their 20s, do download music, but they frequently spend date night vinyl hunting. They both like the experience that comes with buying records at a brick-and-mortar store.

“It's more personal, because you kind of collect them. And then you can pull them out, and [it's] like, 'Oh, I remember we found this at wherever,'” she said. “When you've been browsing for an hour, it's a really fun experience.”

"It's so much better to just flip through the records and go stand by stand and talk to people that are here," Dean said.

Rob Love says that sales have been “tremendous” since he announced last month that they’re closing.

“I mean, the bump in interest and the bump in foot traffic, if we could have done, consistently, a quarter or a third of this kind of business, of course I would keep it going,” he said. “But that’s not the case. You know, everybody loves you when you’re dead.”

Record Revolution will close its doors on December 31. Love says he’ll miss his customers and he’ll really miss the thrill of introducing people to new music.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.